I’ve been struggling with hyper-acidity for a few years now. Like most illnesses, I prefer to take the holistic approach to addressing it rather than the instant gratification approach that calls for pills and reckless abandon in modern medicine. So over the years, I observed various tendencies within myself that seem to trigger the acidity spikes that often feel like a butcher’s hook has been inserted in my abdomen from below and is being pulled downwards with enough force that threatens to disembowel me. So I thought I’d share a few pointers about what has and hasn’t worked for me.
Early on, I visited the doctor to identify the cause of the pain in my stomach. They immediately suspected an ulcer and promptly placed me on medication for this. So I received a standard dose of Nexium and was given some Gaviscon to go with it. It didn’t work. So I went back to the doctor to see what could be the problem. This time, because of the intensity of the pain and discomfort (tmi warning) and because of the fact that my stool was starting to get a mucose texture to it, I was given a double dose of antibiotics (i.e. two different antibiotics simultaneously) over a two week period, including a double dose of Nexium for a month. It didn’t work. The next step suggested by the doctor was a gastroscopy. The idea of having a tube shoved down my throat didn’t appeal to me, so I politely declined and set out trying to understand this issue more holistically.
After a chance meeting with an iridologist at a local pharmacy, I discovered a homoeopathic tea that relieved the symptoms within 2 or 3 days, literally! Unfortunately, as fate would have it, that pharmacy closed down and the tea that was made as a family remedy by that lady disappeared along with it. But I recalled seeing that fennel was one of the active ingredients in that tea, so I got myself some fennel tea to try to deal with the discomfort of the acidity. I also came across a book by Louise L. Hay that provides insights into the association between emotional or mental state, and our physical state. This suggested that acidity was caused by an excessive need to please others. It made perfect sense because at the time, I was going through an absolutely troubling time in my marriage, which affected my work performance, which left me desperately trying to appease both my wife, my boss, and my colleagues at the same time. However, I just saw it as stress before that point, but after reading what Louise had to say, I narrowed it down to that effort to appease. Also worth noting is that with the stress, my caffeine intake increased substantially because I was struggling to sleep and needed an energy boost more often than not. So energy drinks and filtered coffee became my staple diet which only made matters worse.
So I started adjusting my mindset to get more perspective on what was happening. I realised that trying to appease was never sustainable, so I started accepting my limitations in pleasing others or meeting their expectations, and slowly but surely it reduced the intensity of the acidity. But the damage had been done, so I was now predisposed to hyper-acidity because my love for orange juice suddenly became my worst enemy.
To cut a long story short, after many years of finding ways to deal with hyper-acidity without invasive medical treatment, I’ve found that the following works well for me.
- Having peanut butter on toast with tea. For some reason, I’ve found that the caffeine in tea doesn’t affect my acidity, whereas coffee nails it almost immediately. Drinking filter coffee is like committing harakiri.
- I’m using a probiotic called Probiflora with 4 strains of bacteria. There’s one with 9 strains as well, but I’m hoping I’ll never need that one. It seems to help neutralise the stomach acids by just taking one each day as needed.
- I completely avoid Gaviscon and similar antacids. I do use fruit salts from time to time (a local brand called ENO works exceptionally well) which seems effective at alleviating the acid build up after an overly indulgent meal.
- Hyper-acidity usually makes me feel bloated and generally lethargic because of the other symptoms that it invokes, so I’ve found that taking a good (preferably natural) source of digestive enzymes usually helps alleviate the bloatedness as well.
- Fennel tea also works well, or rooibos tea, if you have access to that, to alleviate the bloated feeling that acidity causes. It’s particularly effective to maintain the health of your digestive system when under stress.
- I avoid sugar completely, and I avoid acidic fruit juices completely. The sugar is simply because after getting used to the taste of natural non-radiarised honey, I can’t stand the artificial sweetness that sugar offers.
- When my acid really spikes, I stay away from tomatoes, white flour products and cheeses, including acidic fruits like oranges, naartjies, pineapples and most berries, especially strawberries.
- Most importantly, I remind myself that my objective in life is not to please people, but simply to do right by them. If they’re not happy with me, and I’m being true to myself in the process, then I accept that I cannot make them happy and maintain as amicable a relationship as is warranted, or politely part ways if needed.
I hope that helps, because I see many people suffering with massive discomfort from hyper-acidity these days, and more often than not, they’re either on chronic medication or insane diets which is even more difficult to stick to because hyper-acidity often makes me feel hungry more often than not, which results in horrible weight gain, which nails my self-image, which increases my stress levels and perpetuates that vicious cycle. Hopefully this post will spare someone the torment of that vicious cycle.